Special Reports
City May 'Green' Commercial Building Code

By Heath Urie
Boulder Daily
April 9, 2008

Council also wants tougher standards for residences

New commercial buildings in Boulder should be held to higher standards of energy
efficiency as one way to help create an "energy-neutral" community, the City
Council agreed Tuesday.

City staffers made the suggestion at a study session on the progress being made by Boulder's Climate Action Plan, the
city's master plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Under the staff's proposal, either a full-scale or temporary commercial "green
building code" would hold developers of new commercial property to up to 50
percent above current standards for energy efficiency.

Staffers working in the city's Environmental Affairs Office also suggested the
council consider upping the standards for existing resi-dential and rental
property energy efficiency --both ideas the council largely indicated it would support.

"I'd like to be more aggressive," Councilman Matt Appelbaum said. "I would
certainly try to look at how we slowly but surely start requiring upgrades to
existing structures."

Councilwoman Crystal Gray agreed, but she cautioned about moving too quickly
without asking how new restrictions would impact the development community.
"We just can't lay something on top of them," Gray said. "We need to understand
why they aren't doing it now."

Councilman Ken Wilson went a step further, though, advocating for an interim
ordinance regulating new commercial building efficiency within six months.
"I think we need to engage all the parties to get that going, but we need to do
it quickly," he said.

While she agreed that a temporary ordinance should be looked at, Councilwoman
Suzy Ageton also warned the council could be asking too much of its residents
too soon after considering other building restrictions -- such as the recently
implemented "green points" program.

"This community also is going to be asked to do a lot more in the next six
months to a year," she said. "I don't think we've done enough to fully
understand the impact."

Most of the council members seemed to agree there is room for the city to
require more from its residents in terms of energy conservation on the way to
comply with the Kyoto Protocol.

Last week, a city memo indicated Boulder would only make it about halfway to its
goal of cutting enough greenhouse gases to comply with the international
environmental policy.

The Kyoto Protocol calls for greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 7 percent
below 1990 levels. In Boulder, that means reducing emissions, from 1.9 million
metric tons of carbon dioxide -- the amount Boulder residents were responsible
for in 2006 -- to just under 1.5 million metric tons by 2012.

To ramp up efforts to reach the goals on time, the city's environmental affairs
staff is requesting a 53 percent increase in funding, which would boost its
budget from $875,177 to $1,343,133.

Even if the City Council approves the increase, which would translate to a
higher carbon tax, Boulder would still meet only 85 percent of its Kyoto goal.
Residential users now pay an average of $13 extra a year in carbon taxes. The
new proposal would increase the average to $19.

The council indicated it would support moving forward with the increase but will
have to vote on the matter at a later hearing.

Jonathan Koehn, environmental affairs manager for the city, said he's confident
Boulder could reach its carbon-cutting goals by 2018.


Promoting Green Building Design, Construction and Operation, Sustainable Living,
Clean Technology, Renewable Energy Resources and Energy Independence